I was in elementary school when my mother taught me to sew. The first big project I made completely on my own, a dress, was hard, definitely, but I am nothing if not dogged and focused when I put my mind to something. The pattern had the option of using two coordinating fabrics which I decided to attempt. I made the whole thing from scrap pieces from my mother’s ample collection. I worked for hours and hours on that dress, even adding buttons up the straight skirt. I was so proud of myself, but what I remember most is how proud my mom was. That was the beginning of a lifelong love of sewing.
Sewing is, in some ways, a lost art. I’m teaching my daughter. Trying, anyway. She went to a fashion camp this summer for the second time. She doesn’t love sewing (it’s hard work, after all), but thanks to Project Runway, there seems to be a renewed interest in fashion, in general, and she will occasionally make things. She’s working on a rag quilt to take to her soccer games, so that’s exciting, and it will be so cool when it’s finished!
But attention spans are different now from when I was a kid, and it’s so easy to go into a store and buy something nice at a fairly reasonable price. So, why sew?
I asked myself this question as I came up with and wrote Pleating for Mercy, the first Magical Dressmaking mystery (which was released in August last year). What is it about sewing and fashion that inspires my character, Harlow Jane Cassidy (a descendent of Butch Cassidy)? What is it about sewing and fashion that inspires anyone who has a love for this craft?
For Harlow, it’s about the creativity, the art, and the heritage of hand sewing in her family. I have that in my family, as well. Generation upon generation of women have sewn, quilted, embroidered, and knitted. It’s a legacy, and that’s something infused in Harlow’s fictional DNA.
One of the best parts of writing this series is that I get to research fabrics, fashion, style, and accessories. I bought Nina Garcia’s (from Project Runway) The One Hundred (tips for every fashionable woman). I bought a book on vintage 1800s dress design (book 2, A Fitting End has Harlow creating a period gown for a town historical pageant). I get to buy dress forms and trims and myriad other goodies to inspire me. Deadly Patterns, book 3, releases in just three days! I can’t believe it’s around the corner. It’s a holiday themed book with a holiday pageant, a dead Santa, and a baby in a manger. I also got to take a Santa doll making class with my mom, and every step to making these very cool dolls is in the book (check them out in the picture…yes, my mom and I made these!).
Doesn’t get more fun than this!
I may not have much time to actually sew, but I get to write about sewing machines, technique, and notions. And I get to peruse bridal magazines, and anything else that strikes my sewing fancy. It may not be the same as sitting down at my Pfaff® and creating a color-blocked dress or a quilted tote, but it works. For now.
So tell me, are there any sewers out there? Any quilters, knitters, or crocheters? What is your take on sewing for today’s generation of girls (and boys) as compared to what it was in the past?
Want to pre-order Deadly Patterns?
Please do! It’ll get you in the sewing spirit, and in the holiday spirit, too.